Expectations can be dangerous when set too high

I am notorious for setting my expectations too high. Picture me (if you don’t know me, just imagine an overenthusiastic little blonde girl) sitting down in a restaurant. I ordered a sandwich and am watching the waiter put it down in front of me. I’m probably smiling ear to ear, because to be honest there are not many things that make me happier than food. And, also, because I have high expectations for this sandwich. Every time I order something at a restaurant, I am expecting it to be the best damn thing that I have ever tasted. But, that’s a lot of pressure to put on a sandwich. And if I take a bite and the sandwich is good but nothing to really write home about, I may leave the restaurant a little disappointed and wishing that I had ordered something else eaten at a different place.

Weird little analogy, but I wanted to incorporate a specific example into this article. And I’m a little hungry right now, so a sandwich actually sounds really good … but anyway. I set these high expectations a lot, whether it be for a sandwich, a person or a night out, and then I’m let down because odds are not every sandwich I’m going to order is going to change my life. And the thing is, if I wasn’t always expecting a world-altering sandwich, then maybe I would enjoy going out to eat a little more.

I always seem to expect this thing or this person to work out perfectly, and more often than not I end up disappointed. And the thing is, the only real fault must be placed on my shoulders. I know it is good to have a certain level of expectation for someone or something since it provides good motivation, but setting expectations too high is a double-edged sword. Typically what happens is things don’t work out exactly as you’d envisioned them, and you were so focused on this imaginary visual that nothing in reality ever really lives up to it.

If we lower our expectations just a little bit, my theory is we will be happier in the long run. That’s because when we just go with the flow, we usually will end up being happily surprised by how things work out, even if they aren’t necessarily how we might have envisioned. This can be tough because of course we want things to go our way! But unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like that. (As my mother frequently had to remind me growing up). Because the world is so unpredictable, there will always be circumstances out of our control. And people, too. We often have this idea of who someone else is, but often that may not be who they actually are. It isn’t fair to either side to do this; we are all human after all. I’ll let you down, you’ll let me down, I’ll let myself down. It’s all a part of life. The sooner we accept this, the better.

So, I’m going to start trying to refrain from these mountainous expectations. I’ll take my excitement down a notch, force myself to slow down, and just enjoy the moment, not looking too far into the future and expecting things to turn out a certain way. Also, I think I’ll go make myself a sandwich.

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